Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: HOME (02/07/19)
TITLE: Unexpected Storms
By A Mattingly
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Beginning my ascension, things couldn’t be better for a climb. The temperature is perfect and there’s a breeze blowing against my cheeks. As I listen to the crunching of footsteps, I inhale the smell of pine needles, mixed with the aroma of the damp ground-cover surrounding the path. Rays of sunlight sparkle on the rocky trail as I carefully maneuver over and around rocks planted in the earth. Making my way up, I admire the cliff-like rocks on one side of the mountain and the steadfast pine trees, standing ready to break my fall if needed, on the other.
I prepare mentally for the familiar steep climb that is looming ahead. As I round the corner, I’m startled by a strong gust of wind stopping me in my tracks like a wall. Trying to continue up, I’m forced to stop for a moment as the rhythm of my stride has been lost. I bend to stretch out my legs. Looking around as I resume my stance, I notice cloud-like fingers blowing towards the sun, trying to pull it out of the sky. Then out of nowhere, thunder claps. Seeing mostly clear sky, I look around wondering if I really heard thunder. Another gust of wind smelling of rain confirms a storm is approaching. Looking for shelter, I quickly climb ahead to a shallow cliff overhang offering protection from the sheets of rain now blowing across the trail, and through the pines, to the valley below. Hunched down under the rocks, I watch as puddles form around my feet and a little stream begins to flow down a shallow trench spilling over the side of the mountain. Young nimble trees bend with the wind. The rain is pounding the valley below.
Where did this storm come from? I prepared for the hike, checking the weather before I left. Conditions seemed perfect, so I packed no rain or wind gear. For now, I’m safe tucked under the protection of the rocks. But what if things get worse? What if I become overcome by the cool wind and rain? Worse yet, hit by an unexpected bolt of lightning.
I talk with my Father, asking for protection and peace to calm my fears. It feels as if the rain has been falling and the winds blowing for hours. In reality, only about twenty minutes have passed. Then as quickly as it arrived, it was gone. Sunshine and warm breezes fill the spring air again. Unless you had been here to witness the mayhem, you would have no clue it ever passed except for the few puddles and trail left behind as the water ran off the mountainside.
Rising to my feet, I contemplate heading back down without continuing to the summit. My thoughts shift to how this little storm on the mountainside, in which I felt all alone and lost, was like some of the storms I have faced in life. Some storms tore apart my family. Others sent me up unexpected paths. Looking back, I now see how short those storms were in the grand scheme of things, and how God, my rock and my refuge, had by back even then. Just like today, the sun returned, and I could feel His blessings shining down on me. A smile emerges on my face, and I turn to continue my climb. Why not? It’s a beautiful day, after all.
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